Existence in Black and White: Theatrical Representation of the Varieties of Racism in Amiri Baraka’s Select Plays

  • Samy AzouzEmail author


Racial stereotyping implies a form of racist thought which finds its justification in certain biological and phenotypical characteristics. Insults and slurs are indexical of the racism embedded in the characters’ interactions. Various insinuations and expressions are loaded with racist import. Plays such as Dutchman and The Slave show how racial stereotyping in Baraka’s plays undercuts images of the sambo and the brute, and concentrates on the utmost obvious physical characteristics and skin color. Racism and racialism are both components of the racial attitudes of Baraka’s characters. Racism assumes that members of each race possess qualities specific to that race, so as to distinguish it as superior or inferior to another race. Racism draws a detailed map of differences in terms of physical, moral, and mental properties. In Baraka’s drama, racism has two main forms: one is propositional and the other is dispositional. Propositional (extrinsic) racism conveys fierce racist behavior. Dispositional (intrinsic) racism is the expression of loyalty to the ethnic group and belonging to the community. Propositional racism supposes the salience of the racial character and essence. The belief in a racial essence steers toward racial differentiation, and fosters expansive racialization and classification. The objective of this article is to address the construct of propositional racism and delineate its manifestations. It will also tackle the concept of dispositional racism, and highlight how dispositional racism is connected to principles germane to morality and relevant to community.


Race Propositional/dispositional racism Community Morality Racialization Differentiation Stereotyping 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Um Al-Qura UniversityCity of MeccaKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.Kairouan UniversityKairouanTunisia

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